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David Murray
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Entries by David Murray

Dissecting the Irreversibly Altered Brain of a Pro Football Fan

(0) Comments | Posted December 22, 2015 | 3:06 PM

Our hour was up, and I happened to mention the Bears game as we walked off the court.

My tennis partner smothered the endorphin glow by barking that responsible people ought to stop watching pro football, because -- well, because it's simply bad in just about every way.

Intellectually, I...

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SOTU Preview: The State of the Union Address Is Decadent and Depraved

(1) Comments | Posted January 20, 2015 | 12:04 PM

When it comes to Tuesday's State of the Union Address, I have a crystal ball. Gather for a gander.

As editor of Vital Speeches of the Day magazine, an 81-year-old monthly collection of the best American rhetoric, I've live-blogged every one of President Obama's five previous State of...

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Judging the State of the Union, One Town at a Time

(2) Comments | Posted February 12, 2013 | 2:50 PM

You know President Obama's State of the Union speech tonight will be all challenges and opportunities and hopes and dreams.

While presidents pontificate, mayors -- in their annual state of the village speeches at country clubs, chambers of commerce and public libraries -- well, they pontificate too.

But they...

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For Writers -- and Men-- This Is What Collaboration Looks Like

(1) Comments | Posted December 6, 2012 | 7:08 PM

I am the editor of Vital Speeches of the Day, a monthly magazine that collects the best speeches in the world. Many of its subscribers are speechwriters for CEOs and political leaders. Speechwriters usually complain about one of two things: Clients who won't work on the speech, and clients who...

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How to Write the State-of-the-Town Speech

(1) Comments | Posted February 22, 2012 | 11:24 AM

State-of-the-town speeches exploded during the housing boom, when mayors could simply describe the explosive growth in the tax base and bask in the glow. After everything went to hell in 2008, most mayors would probably have preferred to skip the speech, but as that would have looked bad, they stood...

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To Professional Writers Who Second-guess America's 'Story Teller In Chief': Knock It Off

(8) Comments | Posted August 17, 2011 | 3:03 PM

Which American demographic is most frustrated with President Obama at the moment?

Right-wing Republicans, who think he is a socialist?

Far-left Democrats, who say he is a sellout?

Nope.

Professional writers, who believed that Obama had been elected writer-in-chief, and that suddenly The White House was going to be...

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Vital Speeches Editor Searches Phoenix Garage, and Finds Us

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2011 | 8:05 PM

On a happy visit last week to the Phoenix, Ariz. headquarters of the publisher of Vital Speeches of the Day -- I edit the magazine out of my home office in Chicago -- I saw the archives of the ancient publication for the first time. There wasn't a lot of...

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Working, in Chicago: An Emotional Guide for New Graduates

(2) Comments | Posted March 21, 2011 | 5:10 PM

Having escaped the confusions of childhood and emerged through the hot or cold war of your teenage years, you stride into the world feeling steeled against formative experience.

And then, into the blast furnace you go.

"A first job may be similar to one's experience with grade school," Larry Ragan...

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How to Know the Real State of the Union: By Reading the State-of-the-Village Speeches

(1) Comments | Posted January 31, 2011 | 4:54 PM

Last week President Obama had the rhetorical luxury to talk grandly in his State of the Union Address, reminding Americans that "we do big things" and letting our imaginations take care of the rest.

But America's mayors, in their annual state of the village speeches at local libraries, chambers of...

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Speeches: The Current State of the Oldest Art

(0) Comments | Posted September 20, 2010 | 6:58 PM

It's been about a year since I took over what an observer once called the cushiest job in the world: editor of Vital Speeches of the Day, the 75-year-old monthly collection of the speeches.

"You go to the mailbox once a day, and it's filled with two things:...

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On Top of the World With His Camera: Jerry Pritikin's View of San Francisco in the 1970s

(1) Comments | Posted June 4, 2010 | 11:40 AM

If you're ever trying to contemplate the breakneck hell ride and joy ride of being gay in America over the last 70 years, get to know Jerry Pritikin, and look at the pictures he took along the way.

He was a teenager in Chicago in 1950s, when being gay was...

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Mayors Use State-of-the-Village Addresses to Lay Out Common Vision: Hang On for Dear Life!

(2) Comments | Posted February 5, 2010 | 4:57 PM

It's no accident that the relatively new trend of the splashy January state-of-the-village address was born and burgeoned during the housing boom. Back then--in the 1990s and 2000s, mayors wanted to get up and tout all the new housing starts and retail openings.

In those heady days, the state of...

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Studs Terkel, On His Dance With the FBI: 'Oh Well'

(5) Comments | Posted November 20, 2009 | 10:53 AM

I read with interest all the stories this week about the late Studs Terkel and his FBI file. To my dismay, they pretended to discover the ironic revelation that Terkel actually applied to work for the FBI in the early 1930s.

I scratched my head, waiting for someone to...

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Chicago Force Football Tryouts Are Coming Up. Are You Woman Enough?

(3) Comments | Posted November 13, 2009 | 10:54 AM

Next Saturday, Nov. 21, the Chicago Force women's football team is holding the first of two tryouts. "NO FOOTBALL EXPERIENCE NECESSARY! We are looking for dedicated, competitive athletes who want to play football."

Readers wondering whether they are woman enough can listen to this piece on...

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How to Go From Jamoke to Chicagoan in Under 40 Minutes

(4) Comments | Posted November 5, 2009 | 4:23 PM

I've got this intern working for me, he's a nice smart kid. (That's how bad things are for college grads these days. They intern for freelance writers.)

Anyway, the kid grew up in San Francisco. He moved here a few years ago to go to college at DePaul. The other...

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Miracle at Indian Boundary

(1) Comments | Posted October 9, 2009 | 6:39 PM

My golf buddy Bill is having both hips replaced this fall, and all I can think of is one unforgettable day in the early spring of 2006.

It was cold and wet and cloudy and Bill and I were the only two people on the golf course. Our only company...

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Vital Speeches, Back in the Day

(5) Comments | Posted October 8, 2009 | 11:23 AM

David Murray is editor of Vital Speeches of the Day.

Whenever one pundit frets about a loss of civility in the public dialogue, another cherry-picks some violent quotation from a long-ago political fight and says, "See? It was worse in 1840!"

So it was with particular interest that...

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The Chicago Public School Teacher's Husband

(4) Comments | Posted September 22, 2009 | 1:22 PM

This essay was written in 2003; the opening scene took place in the summer of 2000. --DM

Terrible insults had been shouted as loud as we could shout, until our vocal chords gave out. I had thrown a burrito into the fireplace. The bedroom and guestroom doors had been slammed...

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HuffPost Tourist Guide: 24 hours ... in Ottawa, Ill.?

(1) Comments | Posted September 18, 2009 | 11:02 AM

The in-flight magazines carry those "24 hours" pieces, suggesting you can get a flavor for Paris or London or Chicago in a day -- a tantalizing notion for just the type of imbecile who reads airline magazines.

But Ottawa, Ill. is not Hong Kong, and a few weeks ago...

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Happy Terkel Day

(11) Comments | Posted September 7, 2009 | 5:28 PM

Well, why wouldn't we rename Labor Day after Studs?

He wrote Working, which gave workers the dignity of their own eloquence, he defended workers his whole life and never stopped working himself until his death last fall at 96.

He also narrated this film, "Can't Take No...

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